After Elias Ishoel wrapped up his fourth consecutive points championship on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series in March, an intense debate was initiated among Snow Goer family and friends about where this young racer fits among the greatest to ever participate in the “modern” form of snocross racing – meaning the deep-snow, big bumps sort of racing that the sport evolved into in the early 1990s.
That discussion blossomed into this: The Top 10 Snocross Racers Of All Time list. It was created after polling many top snocross industry “insiders” including select race circuit officials, factory race directors, major team owners, media personnel, aftermarket industry leaders and others who were involved very directly in the sport over the past 30 years. We combined their input with an intense review of past race results and points standings to finalize our rankings.
In addition, we also created an online poll and let fans create their own list. Their results will be included in the story series, but ultimately our Top 10 list is based on the “insiders” input and our own opinions and review.
We’re starting out with No. 10 and will be counting them down over the next two week. Check back as we build out the list.
No. 10: Dennis “DJ” Eckstrom
Dennis “DJ” Eckstrom may not have had the big, flashy win totals of some other racers in our the Top 10 list – or even a few who were just barely left off the list. But once you look into the numbers and truly flash back to his role in the sport you realize how incredible Eckstrom’s career was.
The native of Duluth, Minnesota, made a splash in the Semi-Pro division aboard Yamaha snowmobiles before turning pro with Arctic Cat at the age of 18. His career really took off, though, when he got hooked up with Scheuring Speed Sports – first on Polaris sleds and later on Ski-Doos. He raced until 2009.
CLAIM TO FAME: Racing in an era dominated by Blair Morgan and Tucker Hibbert, Eckstrom was the model of consistency. In fact, according to stats compiled by famed motorsports announcer Greg Craemer from 1998-2003, Morgan and Hibbert were the only two racers to have more podium finishes in the first five years of the WSA circuit than the 30 notched by Eckstrom. The only other racers to even hit double-digits in podium finishes in the era covered by Craemer’s stats were Chris Vincent (24 podiums) and Justin Tate (11). Eckstrom also ended several seasons in the top three in points in various Pro classes, notched select key victories in both WSA and the Indoor Super Snowcross, plus earned a silver medal at the ESPN Winter X Games. Eckstrom was respected by his peers for his smooth, consistent style. He was fast but not overly aggressive.
MOMENT IN TIME: After winning the Pro Open class championship in Indoor Super Snowcross series the previous season, Eckstrom showed up at his hometown, season-opened Spirit Mountain National on Thanksgiving weekend of 2004 full of confidence. That allowed the then-24-year-old racer to blitz past early race leader Blair Morgan and run away with a strong and popular victory in Pro Open in front of a packed house. He also finished second to Robbie Malinoski (and directly in front of Morgan) in Pro Stock on the same weekend. The performance landed him on the cover of Snow Week magazine.
FANS BALLOTING: When we turned the Top All-Time Snocross Racer ballot over to the fans, Eckstrom finished 14th
CATCHING UP WITH DJ: Eckstrom has two children, ages 15 and 13, and currently owns and operates Lake Effect Coatings in the Duluth area. He was kind enough to sit down for a video interview recently with our Snow Goer Live video/podcast. He shared his story of coming through the ranks, plus offered some advice for newcomers in this interesting interview.
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